It’s been nearly a month since most of us have been home and trying to keep the kids occupied while being mindful of social distancing. By this time, we have crossed off most of what’s on our “things to do” list or the kids are bored by doing the same activities.
Here are 22 more social distancing ideas that will help pass the time, safely.
Paint and hide rocks. Are you aware of the painted rock craze? If not, do a quick Google search or join facebook.com/groups/sweetbuffalorocks for ideas, paint some rocks at home and hide them during your nature hike.
Write letters to friends or out-of-town relatives. That’s right — actual letters. If your kids are missing their buddies or just want to say hello to relatives, this a neat way to keep in touch and keep them writing.
Have an outdoor fire and make s’mores. Get the fire pit back into action – just remember to have some graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows in stock.
Get out and play — in your front or back yard. While going to playgrounds or over to friends’ houses is a no-no, much fun can be had outside at home. Consider ordering a few inexpensive items to play with — we bought a foam airplane, a “Stomp Rocket” launcher, and some bubbles — and enjoy the fresh air.
Find some Little Free Libraries. While visits to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library branches might not be in the cards, there are numerous Little Free Libraries in the area. Visit littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap, search your ZIP code, and you’ll find a listing with a walkable route. Remember, though, to wipe down any books you bring to leave behind and any that you took home.
Watch “Lego Masters,” then work on some builds together. The Fox series “Lego Masters” is a family reality show treat, featuring teams of two working together on epic brick builds. Watch it after its Wednesday night airing on the Fox app, and then make your own family Lego projects.
Got chalk? Get to work on the driveway. My daughter loves to color and draw with chalk. And while doing that on our driveway is a regular pastime, these days it has the feel of a beautifully subversive act. Our work might not be Miyazaki Chalk Contest at the North Park caliber, but we’ve got time to practice.
Take a nature hike. Buffalo Harbor State Park, Tifft Nature Preserve, Reinstein Woods in Depew, Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park and the Burchfield Nature and Art Center in West Seneca are unlikely to be over-crowded. The trails offer a nice way to get outside without too much worry.
Watch “Nailed It,” then do some baking together. Similarly, Netflix’s hilarious “Nailed It” is fab family viewing. The concept – amateur bakers try to re-create expert desserts – could encourage kids to find some recipes and try them at home, with parental help, of course.
Make a graham cracker house. Like s’mores, graham cracker houses require a few items: frosting, maybe some Peeps, gumdrops, M&Ms and jellybeans. Construct some gingerbread-style houses, and then let the kids dig in afterward.
Board game or card game marathon. My 5-year-old daughter could play Uno for hours, and my 9-year-old son loves Life and Monopoly. You’ll feel far better about the kids playing these than games on the Xbox.
Watch for bears and rainbows, then make your own. There are a number of unique creative endeavors currently underway locally, and in our neighborhood, we’ve seen several. Specifically, we’ve spotted lots of chalk rainbows on driveways and sidewalks, and teddy bears in windows and doorways. Kids can go on their own “bear hunt” around the neighborhood.
Dye their hair with Kool-Aid. Hey, your guys aren’t seeing anyone for a bit, right? Now is the time to let them go crazy with their hair color. Buy or order some Kool-Aid packets, check the directions at spoonuniversity.com/recipe/kool-aid-as-hair-dye, and get ready to cringe at the results.
Download free coloring books and a lot more at Open Culture. The website Open Culture (openculture.com) offers a treasure trove of freebies. Of particular interest is the long list of links to free coloring books from more than 100 museums around the world.
Watch "Frozen 2." Again. Disney made the seriously wise decision to bring Anna and Elsa to Disney+ months early. Yes, your children have seen it before. No, they’re not sick of it yet.
Play school – and come up with a daily instruction schedule. Before diving into the worksheets your kids’ schools sent home, “play” school. And use that opportunity to come up with a rough homeschooling schedule together. Make gym class fun by incorporating TikTok songs, make chalk drawings on the driveway for art class – whatever keeps everyone engaged.
Mess around with Google Earth. Yes, it’s fun for kids to find their own home on Google Earth (google.com/earth). But it’s even cooler to zoom into sites like the Great Wall of China and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Yes, I realize one of those is more historically significant.) End by finding a place you actually can visit.
Connect with the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. One of my family’s favorite afternoon trips is a short drive to Rochester’s Strong Museum. The museum is currently closed, but follow its Facebook page for Facebook live videos, story times and plenty of fun ideas for passing the time.
Sign up for Mystery Doug. My son came home from school one day raving about Mystery Doug (mysterydoug.com), a free website in which kids across the country ask science questions and receive video answers. The questions range from the silly (“Can animals laugh?”) to the serious (“How can you tell if a mushroom is poisonous?”). The site currently features some neat at-home science lessons, as well.
Doodle with Mo Willems. Author, illustrator and Kennedy Center Education artist-in-residence Mo Willems invites young viewers into his studio for a daily doodle at kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems. Get some art supplies together, fire up the family iPad, and get doodlin’.
Listen to celebrities reading stories. What’s infinitely less embarrassing than celebrities singing “Imagine”? Famous folk reading adorable children’s stories. A quick search of “celebrities reading books” will bring you some sweet videos featuring the likes of Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner. Hey, it’s the closest we’re getting to fresh entertainment for awhile.
Take a virtual museum tour. An interesting development during these strange times is the proliferation of virtual museum tours. Many have long been available, but never before have some been publicized. Examples include the Louvre (louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne) and the British Museum (britishmuseum.withgoogle.com).